Dinosaurs! A Love Story

DINOSAURS! A LOVE STORY

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Celebrity Hockey Fan Countdown: Playoff Edition

Celebrity Hockey Fan Countdown: Playoff Edition

The NHL Playoffs start tonight, so naturally I intend to glue myself to the television to look for celebrities in the stands. They are not as high profile as celebrity basketball fans thanks to a 12-foot barrier between the rink and the crowd, designed, I believe, to keep Spike Lee from rushing the ice after every penalty against the New York Rangers. [No really, he likes the Rangers, too.] Nor…

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Filed under hockey jon hamm kristen bell los angeles kings macgyver playoffs stanley cup viggo mortensen will ferrell

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The Agony of Domestic Defeat

The Agony of Domestic Defeat

Why These US Olympic Hockey Losses To Canada Really Matter

 

Just after the United States lost to Canada in the Olympic men’s ice hockey semifinal, Bleacher Report uncovered an Instagram photoof a Canadian bar sporting an afternoon beer special: “American Tears”.  This came only a day after the women’s team’s stunning collapse against Canada in the gold medal game, ceding two goals in the final…

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A Tale of Three CitiesI love summer.  Not for the beach, though I live in California.  And not for the summer break,…View Post

A Tale of Three Cities

I love summer.  Not for the beach, though I live in California.  And not for the summer break,…

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Jack Horner vs. Jack Horner

We all know the Mother Goose rhyme, Little Jack Horner sat in the corner, eating a Christmas pie, and then it gets weird. Like super weird. Apparently there’s a political backstory to this particular rhyme, but it’s boring and the language of the actual rhyme is just too creepy not to celebrate on its own. Instead, I present to you two Jacks Horner that have staked their own claims in the bizarre, the grotesque, and the fantastic, and are clearly the favorites for greatest Jack Horner of all time. One is fictional, a 1970s adult filmmaker in P.T. Anderson’s classic Boogie Nights. The other was a fixture on the Jurassic Park set, the paleontologist that inspired the film’s protagonist, Alan Grant, and also served as a consultant on the film. Pornography and dinosaurs? Sign me up. Here, in five hopefully revelatory categories, we will be able to decide who is the superior Jack Horner. Let’s get it on.

Played by:

Burt Reynolds in his Travolta-esque comeback role. Burt wasn’t dying for exposure, but certainly no one was taking him seriously after Cop and a Half. By the time Boogie Nights rolled around, Burt’s heyday was far in the rear-view mirror. But he’s perfect here as the elder statesman, carrying with him the right amount of charm, sleaze, and see-through 1970s overconfidence in his artistically driven, morally ambiguous smut peddler. This is a tall order, and he slays. The movie took a huge chance on Mark Wahlberg and it worked. And of course they got good performances out of Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Reilly, and Don Cheadle. Casting Burt seems like the wild card, but he ends up being the glue that makes the whole damn thing work.

Sam Neill as the nerdy, dino-loving but children-fearing paleontologist who proves himself in the field. With actual dinosaurs! I love Sam Neill, and his range is exceptional, especially if you watch Event Horizon (seriously, he’s the creepiest). But Sam Neill’s Alan Grant is adorably uncomfortable in the role of the hero in the first Jurassic Park, then sits out the second, and returns in a ridiculously self-conscious wink to the audience for JP3. Some people hate the third one. I’m not one of them. It’s hilarious in its irony and it’s got dinosaurs in it. Good call, Sam.

Winner:

Jack Horner

Best line:

“Do you know what I’m looking at? The foxiest bitch in the whole world.”

“Try to imagine yourself in the Cretaceous Period. You get your first look at the ‘six foot turkey’ as you enter a clearing. He moves like a bird, lightly, bobbing his head. And you keep still because you think that maybe his visual acuity is based on movement like T-Rex: he’ll lose you if you don’t move. But no, not Velociraptor. You stare at him, and he just stares right back. And that’s when the attack comes. Not from the front, but from the side, from the other two raptors you didn’t even know were there. Because Velociraptor’s a pack hunter, you see, he uses coordinated attack patterns and he is out in force today. And he slashes at you with this…a six-inch retractable claw, like a razor, on the middle toe. He doesn’t even bother to bite your jugular like a lion, say…no, no. He slashes at you here…or here…or maybe across the belly, spilling your intestines. The point is…you are alive when they start to eat you. So you know…try to show a little respect.”

Winner:

Jack Horner

Occupation:

The last of a dying breed of cinematic pornographers who manages to toe the line between a genuine love of cinema and just wanting to watch people get it on, Jack Horner resists the trappings of the video age for as long as he can, but his great vision of making truly artistic pornography is short lived. Rather, his true occupation is that of the surrogate father of a family of lost children and runaways, and in this role, he’ll never lose his job. Dirk, Reed, Becky, Jessie, Buck, and Rollergirl: Jack’s living in his own private Peter Pan story with a bevy of Lost Boys (and Girls) to care for and does so with surprising grace. Sure, there’s a blow up or two when Eddie Adams forgets he’s from Torrance, but in general Jack’s a patient, understanding, and generous father figure. Who likes to film people fucking.

He digs up dinosaurs. If I knew nothing else about him, that would be enough. But Horner’s theories on the behavior of dinosaurs were not only revolutionary, but they also inspired both Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg to create two works of art (of the same name) that had profound effects on me (yeah, so? I’m writing this damn thing, it’s all about me.), all with the cooperation of Jack Horner. Horner served as a consultant on the film, and while Alan Grant is not a direct representation of him (yes, he is), Horner’s theories are prevalent throughout. And he was a constant presence on set. Remember how when we used to think it was cool to go to Universal Studios and see an animatronic Jaws pop out of the water? Imagine that all day, every day. And maybe you hang out with Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, and Laura Dern. Dinosaurs, a love story.

Winner:

Jack Horner

Appearance:

burt.jpg

Jack’s OG. And that salt and pepper thing just works.

jakchornerprofile.jpg

Real-life Indiana Jones. No, really this is what Doctor Jones would more likely resemble: that one uncle about whom your dad and grandmother throw knowing glances to each other whenever someone brings him up at Christmas.

Winner:

Jack Horner

Legacy:

Jack finally made the movie he always wanted to, but then everything turns to shit. His film legacy had been rendered moot by the inevitable devolution into video. His real legacy is in his “kids”. Buck and Jessie find happiness, Dirk comes back into the fold, and Rollergirl learns how to pretend to clean her room. It’s an imperfect family, but a surprisingly touching one.

Horner’s theories got mainstream attention after Michael Crichton used them as a central conceit of his novels, but the two decades before, Horner was a rock star in the world of paleontology when he and his team discovered a nesting site in Montana and went on to publish about the family dynamics of dinosaurs. He is not, however, considered a particularly gifted scholar*. But Jack Horner made some of the most important digs of the past 50 years and backed it up with groundbreaking ideas as to the evolution of these creatures we all love so much.

Winner:

Jack Horner

Final Score:

Both Jacks are exceptional in their style, their wit, and their contributions to world culture. Choosing between them is like deciding which of your children you love the most. But as always, a decision must be made, and by the narrowest of margins, the winner by a score of 3-2, the one, the only… Jack Horner.

* From the NY Times, 1988: “Other paleontologists have excavated more and grander dinosaurs. Still others, with more imposing academic credentials and a flair for big-picture theories, have been more eloquent in advancing scientific and popular understanding of prehistoric life. But in the last decade no one seems to have matched the luck, perseverance and success of John R. Horner in digging up rare insights into the lives of the incomparable dinosaurs.”

Filed under jackhorner burtreynoldsisgod eventhorizon dinosaurs pornography somuchpornography

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On Foxes and Fox Hunting

Do people hate fox hunting because they love foxes? My personal relationship with foxes, developed as it was far from any actual members of the species, has always been pretty good. The one Roald Dahl book I owned as a kid was The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and owning it meant I read it more than any other. Wes Anderson allayed all my fears of a childhood favorite being ruined when he made his cussing good stop-motion animation adaptation of the book. (I will never think kindly of Jim Carrey or Mike Meyers again after the horrors they perpetrated on the works of Dr. Seuss.) Speaking of Dr. Seuss, another fox-based book I had as a kid was Fox in Socks. While it wasn’t my most favorite of Theodore Geisel’s oeuvre, I certainly held its tongue twisters in high regard. Foxes are wily, and foxes are cute. There are, it turns out, many different kind of foxes, the fennec fox, for instance, which is practically the definition of kawaii and which has gotten quite a lot play around the web lately. And there’s always the handsome domesticated silver fox, if that’s the sort of thing that gives you a thrill (don’t pretend it doesn’t). But the ideal form of the fox is, of course, vulpes vulpes, the European red fox, with his big ears and big tail and his lovely red coat.

red fox

So foxes are nice, aren’t they? Jumping on trampolines as they will, or just giving a nutty bear lover a nice afternoon. Do we hate fox hunting because we hate the idea of a bunch of twits in silly costumes demanding their hereditary right to trammel across the countryside on their fancy horses with their packs of baying dogs? That may be a big part of it, but lately I’ve turned a corner on foxes. I’m not sure they’re so sweet after all.

It turns out that England is overrun with foxes these days. They’re all over London. There were an estimated 10,000 foxes in London in 2006 and those numbers are rising, as they have no predators there, but they do have abundance of people who are willing to feed the charming creatures. The foxes have adapted so well to city life, they’ve even started opening bank accounts.

Fox in ATM queue

No, they haven’t.That’s a taxidermied fox from an amazing photo project by Martin Usborne. (By the way, one thing that exists in London, other than foxes, is a taxidermy rental shop called Get Stuffed.)

But seriously. Foxes are a problem. There is the story (from the Telegraph, not the goddamned Daily Mail) of a man who, on his way home from doing his grocery shopping, was cornered by a fox. The fox menaced the man until it was given a loaf of garlic bread. The man was not a small man. He weighed 15 stone (that’s 210 pounds, Americans) (that’s about 95 kilos, everyone else). Here is a picture illustrating the difference in size between a man and a fox. Here is a picture illustrating the difference in size between a lady and a fox. Babies and children are not so much bigger than foxes, and foxes may have bitten some of them in recent years. English foxes have become out-of-control jerks, threatening grown men, eating beloved cats and small dogs, pooping on people’s Christmas wreathes. I’m afraid that foxes may be the coyotes of England. And coyotes are the dingoes of America. And dingoes are the hyenas of Australia. So, basically, there are wild hyenas running all around London scaring people into giving up their garlic loaves. That can’t be a good thing. Release the hounds, I say! Let the twits trammel the city streets! Down with the foxes! Let’s stop their reign of terror before it’s too late!

Filed under England Wes Anderson foxes hunting get stuffed